Forum reporter sets down notebook after half century in news business
"I think it's very important that we cover all levels of government," Barry Amundson said, adding that his goal as a reporter was to write stories that painted an accurate picture of what was happening in the community while also entertaining readers.
FARGO — Journalism matters.
For Barry Amundson, those words, emblazoned in white letters across the black T-shirt he wore for his last day of work on Wednesday, July 27, say it all.
The shirt was Amundson's go-to uniform for many of the government meetings he covered as night reporter for The Forum. He said he felt it was appropriate attire for his last day at the paper and his last day in the profession he has worked in for half a century.
"I think it's very important that we cover all levels of government," Amundson said, adding that his goal as a reporter was to write stories that painted an accurate picture of what was happening in the community while also entertaining readers.
"Then people can make up their own mind how they want to think about it," he said.
It's been gratifying, Amundson said, to hear from some of the city officials he covered over the years who have told him he succeeded at keeping the community informed.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney showed his gratitude for Amundson's work covering happenings at City Hall when he declared Wednesday as "Barry Amundson Day" in Fargo.
Co-workers showered similar appreciation on Amundson, 66, during a going-away party held for the new retiree Wednesday afternoon.
"After more than 50 years in journalism, with many of those years working for this company, you have achieved what few in the news business have done — you are going out on your own terms after a long and accomplished career," said Matt Von Pinnon, editor of The Forum.
"Now, it's time for you to do whatever else you enjoy doing. We'll all miss your writing and expertise about our community, but you will always be welcomed inside our newsroom," Von Pinnon added.
In January, Amundson became a member of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Half Century Club, and he received similar recognition in North Dakota for a career that began when he was 16 and took a job writing sports news for the Cottonwood County Citizen, a weekly newspaper in Windom, Minnesota.
He got the job with help from a neighbor who owned the paper.
"I just kind of got thrown into it," Amundson said earlier this year when he was admitted to the MNA Half Century Club .
That first job with the Cottonwood County Citizen lasted through high school, after which Amundson took mass communication classes at what is now Minnesota State University Mankato.
During summers in college, he returned to Windom to work at the Citizen, and when he was taking classes he also worked at the college radio station and wrote sports stories for the Mankato Free Press, Mankato's daily newspaper.
After graduating from college in 1978, he took a job with a weekly newspaper in Pipestone, Minnesota, where he spent about 10 years.
The paper paid well enough that he could afford a new Chevrolet Camaro, as well as house payments.
After Pipestone, Amundson took a job at the Worthington Daily Globe, where he worked for several years as news editor.
After that, it was on to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in South Dakota, where he was a page designer and copy editor.
A native of Walcott, North Dakota, who attended grade school in Fargo, Amundson returned to the area in 2000 to take a job at The Forum, where he worked until about 2007, when he went to work for the Sioux City Journal in Iowa, a job that included page design and copy editing.
Layoffs at that paper resulted in him taking a job with the Tri-State Neighbor, a farm newspaper in South Dakota, where he worked for about three years writing farm news.
He returned to Fargo and The Forum around 2013, when he helped develop Forum News Service before taking up the reporter job at The Forum that he retired from Wednesday.
Amundson said he will always have connections to the Fargo area, where his mother, Rita, still lives.
He plans to do some traveling, including visits to Norway and Paris to spend time with former foreign exchange students from high school who became life-long friends.
"They treat my mom like their own mom. I think a lot of people can relate to that, because I know that happens to a lot of families," Amundson said.